2G scam: CBI closing in on Dayanidhi Maran

(source: ndtv.com)

New Delhi:  Dayanidhi Maran took an early flight to Delhi on Tuesday morning, a day after the CBI – now actively pursuing complaints of a telecom scam allegedly engineered by him – found a witness against the former Telecom Minister.

CBI sources said the agency had, in the wake of the corruption allegations against Maran, sent a report to the Prime Minister’s Office. Any action in the case would need a nod from the highest levels as Maran, who is DMK chief M Karunanidhi’s grand nephew, is the Union Textile Minister in the UPA government at the Centre.

On Monday, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was evasive on Maran’s future in the Cabinet in the wake of the allegations of corruption levelled against him. The Prime Minister was asked whether he had sought Maran’s resignation and he said, “All these matters are being looked into by law enforcement agencies. They should be allowed to do their work without fear or favour.”

Earlier on Monday, the former owner of Aircel Sivasankaran reportedly told the CBI that he was pressured by Mr Maran’s ministry to sell the telecom company in 2006 to an industrialist from Malyasia. “I felt strangulated,” he reportedly said during a lengthy interrogation by the investigating agency. At a press conference in Chennai, Mr Maran countered, “If anyone was being forced (to sell), they could have gone to court.”

Mr Sivasankaran claims that harassment by the Department of Telecommunications (DoT), which repeatedly rejected his applications for mobile network licenses, forced him to sell his company to T Anandakrishnan. Mr Sivasankaran’s successor is reportedly close to Mr Maran and his brother, Kalanidhi, who owns Sun TV.

After Mr Anandakrishnan acquired Aircel, he was granted 14 licences and within months of that, Mr Anandakrishnan’s company invested nearly Rs. 800 crore in Sun TV. The CBI is investigating whether that was a quid pro quo.

Mr Maran has said that he did not use his position as Telecom Minister to harass Mr Sivasankaran, or to later benefit Sun TV. He has also clarified that he does not own any shares in Sun TV.

Mr Maran’s party, the DMK, has been linked in multiple ways with different telecom scams. A Raja, a senior leader who took over from Mr Maran as Telecom Minister, is in jail for the 2G scam; so is Kanimozhi, who is Karunanidhi’s daughter.

The CBI chief AP Singh will appear before the Joint Parliamentary Committee probing the 2G spectrum scam today and present findings.

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